I’m not sure how I did it, but I read 8 books since the last time I checked in. As you know I didn’t write a couple newsletters, so that’s where the extra time went. LOL. I read in a few genres: from Horror (cordyceps fungus zombies and supernatural revenge), literary fiction, and a healthy dose of Seth Godin (marketing, leadership and living a creative life). These were some great reads to take my mind off the tasks at hand.
Not only did I spend the past three months away from y’all reading novels, I also read 6 graphic novels. Everything from Manga horror, coming of age and a banned book. I also went to CAKE (Chicago’s Alternative Comics Expo with Georgia last month (I’ll be sharing finds from that next newsletter).
I was still digging my monthly subscription to Vinyl Moon. It’s like a mix-tape on vinyl, except they create an experience combining the curated eclectic mix of songs with story telling and artwork. It’s pretty cool and I’m excited to get more editions. ‘
I did do some record digging at a record shop recently, and I’ll share those gems next month.
Here are the four top podcasts I’ve been finding time for:
Row introduced me to the world he is creating through his words and comics. A world where superhero’s are just being discovered and exploited.
Here is what The Jet Saga is all about in Row’s words:
“Kevin is trying to find his self-worth in a world where heroes are now just becoming a thing. While a nation is being divided by inescapable change, Kevin is desperately trying to provoke change within himself.”
Go learn more about Row Sky and his comic at his website (there are trailers and art work).
This was the first book I’ve read in 2023, and it was incredible. And the process and transformation of the idea and themes in the book cross several creative disciplines, Music, Writing, and Art.
The book has its roots in the Music of Drexciya, a Detroit based Techno duo. The story reimagines the horror of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade by posing the question, “What if the descendants of pregnant mothers thrown overboard created an underwater society?” This theme was picked up by Daveed Diggs and his rap group Clipping. The idea was further explored and expanded by author Rivers Solomon in the book, ‘The Deep.” And to keep the idea and world building expanding, Abdul Qadim Haqq created a graphic novel: The Book Of Drexciya Volume One and Two
Back copy excerpt for ‘The Deep’:
“The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’ rap group Clipping.
Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.
Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.
Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.
Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future,” The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting.
Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen
I am continuing my journey and deep dive into the theory of story, and after focusing on structure, I am moving to dialogue.
Backcopy: ”Now, in Dialogue, McKee offers the same in-depth analysis for how characters speak on the screen, on the stage, and on the page in believable and engaging ways. From Macbeth to Breaking Bad, McKee deconstructs key scenes to illustrate the strategies and techniques of dialogue. Dialogue applies a framework of incisive thinking to instruct the prospective writer on how to craft artful, impactful speech.”
No new Podcast to report: Still catching up on them all!
But on the Music Front, there have been several mentions in this post already, Drexciya, and Clipping, but I was gifted a subscription to Vinyl Moon by my lovely wife Georgia (atomicnumber14). And I did some organizing.
Vinyl Moon is like a mix tape on vinyl, but they create a multimedia experience, Art, Story and Music. I am excited to get new additions every month.
Also, I spent organizing my vinyl collection. I used my woodworking skill and laser engraver to make dividers for my LPs. I will do the same for the hundreds of 45s that I have. Maybe I need to get a jukebox.
I first saw The Fist on Kickstarter from Blackstone comics and creator Brandon Bitros. I had to support this comic and excited to read, becasue it is set in my birth city and home for many years, Philadelphia! Also, the premise was interesting and the artwork and writing was awesome. Go check it out!
Set in 1919 Philadelphia, The Fist is the tale of Riley Reece, a working stiff with a broken marriage and an affection for drunken vigilante justice.
Back Copy excerpt:
“Riley Reece may not look like much, just another working-class boozer with a broken family from the slums of Philadelphia. But Riley Reece isn’t just a drunk — he’s a drunk with a scret. After late night benders of agonizing self-destruction, Riley’s guilty conscience prompts him to sport a black hood and become Philly’s most feared vigilante.
Nisi’s debut novel Everfair, was a finalist for the 2016 Nebula Award. This book has been on my TBR list for some time and I’m finally getting to it.
Back copy except:
“Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Fabian Socialists from Great Britain join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo’s “owner,” King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.”
Go check out all the rave reviews and an excerpt here then add it to your TBR-list!
My fellow writer/friend Shawn Burgess has a new prequel novella coming out. You don’t need to have read his debut novel, “The Tear Collector”, to enjoy this story (but you’ll probably pick it up to enjoy more of his writing and the horror).
I had the pleasure of reading a beta-copy, and I think fans of Jonathan Maberry’s ‘Ghost Road Blues, will enjoy Shawn’s fast paced horror prequel to ‘The Tear Collector’.
Look for this one on Shawn’s website, or sign up for his newsletter so you don’t miss this release.
Back copy excerpt:
“Roger and Gertrude Davis enjoy an idyllic existence in the small Appalachian town of Harper Pass. With vast land holdings, a successful business, and love for the family they’ve built, they’ve avoided the suffering The Great Depression has wrought on the area until it all comes crashing down on a sweltering summer day in 1932.
With the twin daughters they dote on gone missing and ominous signs of foul play evident, a suspect quickly emerges. But not everything is always what it seems. Amidst the murder, madness, and mayhem, they soon learn there’s blood to pay when the past comes calling.”
No new Music to report, but I have been listening some new Podcasts:
As my writing career progresses I have continued to study the craft of writing (the scientist in me like to break things down and figure out why they work), and in doing so hopefully write/tell better stories. Listening to the first few episodes have been enlightening.
“The Story Nerd Podcast demystifies story theory so writers spend less time studying and more time writing. Literary editors and writers, Valerie Francis and Melanie Hill, analyze a film a week as an example of a storytelling principle. The show focuses on concepts common to all stories across film, television, novels and screenplays.”
Okay, that’s where I’m at. I’ll try to update y’all every month on books, comics, and music (podcasts) that I’ve been digging! I’ll try to add some indie author reads!